Monday, 31 May 2010

Storyteller in my life

" Nose in a book, head in the clouds"

I got goose bumps last week reading about daydreaming and storytelling.   Of course it lead me to some serious pondering about writing and when was the last time that I truly had unfettered thoughts and really let my imagination go wild?   It seems like centuries ago...the dear lady pokes the feather duster at the cobwebs. 

Daydreaming takes me back to dusty sunlit classrooms where I devoted entire years to gazing out of the windows, filtering out the droning lessons, praying that the teacher would not ask me a random question, and just wishing beyond anything that I were someplace else.   I recall one teacher's threats  - 'If you don't pay attention, I will send you outside to watch the grass grow'.    Oh really, that's punishment?  Pick me!!

Why do so many of us in adulthood, lose that ability to dream of worlds far from our own reality?  Is it so hard to step back to a time where no one judged your thoughts, your dreams, and your stories.  

I was raised on a healthy dose of superstitions, ghost stories and a cast of local legends that would make your head-spin. My mother is the best storyteller I know.  There were countless nights my sisters and I would beg a story from our mother - 'tell us that really scary one again please!'  If she were away, my sisters and I would stay up late, gobbling midnight feasts, trying to out-scare each other with our own made-up tales.  Daydreaming, storytelling, letting your imagination fly...I wouldn't change that for the world.

Tell me now; is there someone who drew you into the world of storytelling? Growing up, did you have a great storyteller in your life?

A daydreamers viewpoint

Hush...if you're quiet they'll never find you

The perfect nook for a nap

A/N: Photo's courtesy of yours truly.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Last night I had a lovely surprise!  Ahem, no... not that, the dear lady blushes.  The lovely Slushpile Slut strutted her sassy stiletto's over to my blog and bestowed the 'Beautiful Blogger Award' upon us...the lady and I are very honoured!!   I have been throwing pink glitter all over the house and prancing around in my best Jimmy's all night!  Thank you so much Slushpile Slut! XOXO

Now where's that rulebook dear?  

To be able to post this blog award on my site, I am to do the following:
1)  Thank the person who nominated me for this award.
2)  Copy the award and place it on my blog.
3)  Link to the person who nominated me for this award.
4)  Tell us 7 interesting things about yourself.
5)  Pass the award to bloggers that I enjoy! 

Lets see, interesting things about me - only 7?!!    

1)  I love to travel.  There's so much of the world to see!
2)  I love karaoke! Don't ever hand me the mic at karaoke because you'll never see it again.
3)  Music feeds my soul.  I adore classical through to pop to indie to rock.  
4)  I have walked the MacLehose trail in Hong Kong in under 48 hours..just.  An incredible experience I'll never forget...never try that in heels ladies..or gents for that matter.
5)  There's a mountain in China I want to calls to me often.
6)  I watched Season One of "Six Feet Under" over an entire weekend. 
7)  Fashion is an passion; shoes an obsession..the last time I moved, I threw out 60 pairs of shoes.
8)  I made my own perfume last year in Grasse...of course it's not for's a personal thing!

I'm a rule breaker - that's actually 8 things. Cue drum roll, pink glitter and pom-poms please!! I have stumbled across so many inspirational blogs, these are but a few.   Thank you everyone!

I am sending the Beautiful Blogger award along to these lovely souls.

Right, awards ceremony over...the dear lady will be serving refreshments in the garden.

A/N: Photo snapped at Moet et Chandon cellars at Epernay, France.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Blooming Beautiful Prose

"I'd rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck." - Emma Goldman     
Ah blessed blue skies and scorching sunshine!  My local park has been awash with the throng of sun-worshippers, picnickers and cricket whites.  Did I mention the amazing beachwear on parade?  Ah, Mr. Sunshine you bring out the best and worst in all of us.  I am so grateful for my big black sunglasses.   It's days like these I could lie under a shady tree with a book, watch the skies overhead, take a nap or if feeling energetic...potter about in the garden.  The dear lady huffs at me as she crawls along the herbaceous borders, armed with her ratty measuring tape and gardening shears.
I used to love old Wills Shakespeare's "What's in a rose?  That which we call a rose..."  I say used to as his lines have been forever tainted by a friend's overuse of "by any other name would smell as sweet"...when charming ladies, in bars.  Ahem, ladies do be careful - if you cross paths with a dashing stranger quoting Shakespeare...his intentions maybe less than honourable.     
Flowers are symbolic of life's special occasions; they mark the beginning, the end and everything in between.  Birthdays, death, christenings, engagements, weddings, and the just-because-days are all celebrated with flowers.  Roses, lilies, orchids, wildflowers, abundant in colour and perfumed - it's no wonder so many poets and writers are inspired to pick up the quill and pay tribute to mother nature's beautiful blooms.  Now, whisper in my ear and tell me - do you have a favourite line which nature's blooms have inspired?

"La Vie en rose"

Italian Gardens at Hever Castle, Kent, England

Chateau garden in Champagne region, France

A/N: Pictures snapped on holidays or hazy day trips.  The lush rose garden above is at Hever Castle.  The lady doth recommend the grounds and gardens over the castle viewing any day! Also - If in London this week, check the annual RHS Chelsea Flower Show 25-29 May.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Still Got Your Movie Mojo?

Do you still have it?  You know - the ability to switch off for a few hours, sink into the shabby chic sofa and let yourself be entertained without the constant chatter of your inner writer.

Friday nights are movie night for me, or rather DVD nights in front of the shiny big screen...close the shutters, plump the cushions, light the candles, pour a drink, carefully place the remotes at side, and settle in.  Devil's on horseback anyone?  The dear lady trots out her little tray of handmade hors d'oeuvres.

I love going to the movies, ahem...the pictures as my dear mother still calls them.  I particularly enjoy a creaky picture theatre when there are a total of three souls in the audience.  Bliss.   The only hitch being that - I can ruin a movie at five pre-empting the plot line in opening credits.  A talent that has plagued me for many years and frustrated those close to me.  The number of heated exchanges with friends over whether I've seen the movie beforehand amuses me.  I haven't seen it before!!  I tell you, I just knew she had a love-child with her professor many years ago.  I don't know how but I knew.  Pity anyone who sits near me in the picture theatre!

How about you? When was the last time you really enjoyed a movie without that inner voice whispering in your ear?  Can you truly disappear into the charming world unfolding in front of you?  Or is the clockwork at the back of your mind constantly ticking over, deconstructing the plot line at every point-of-view, ripping apart the characters and their dreary dialogue? Of course I could write that script with my eyes closed...yawn.  If it were my script, the words would be so brilliant, they would fly off the pages and dazzle movie-goers. 

Let me know - can you sit back and enjoy the ride of a movie or does your inner scribe get in the way?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Go Long on the Short Story

I used to think 'e' was just a drug bandied at dance parties in the 80's, but I'm completely wrong.  Looking around today - everything is 'e'!  E-books, e-readers, e-publishing...exciting right? 'E' has a friend too...BFF actually, goes by the letter 'i'.   As in, iPod upon the train, iPad to keep me from being sad, iMac therefore I am.  It's amazing how technology moulds industries...builds, spills, thrills.  If you are quiet - you can hear it...the gentle waves of e-publishing lapping at your trouser hems.  

I have been mulling over short stories since last week, mainly as I have come across a number of online competitions.  Many people have told me that publishers do not like short stories... high cost, zilch return. So, short stories are in fact dead. As a Dodo.... the lady mutters in between the tap-tap-tap of her old typewriter. Worse than dead, ignored.  A number of publishers and agents will not consider looking short stories at all.  This makes me sad for them...the stories.  You see, I think they are a real treat.  One of my favourite books is Ghostwritten by David Mitchell; another is Nine Stories by J.D Salinger.  Crumbs, I was weaned on Katherine Mansfield's collection of short stories.  

Despite views that they will never be cash cows, I wonder with the ever-evolving technology and competition of e-publishing and e-readers.... have my beloved short stories, and novella's been granted a new lease of life?   Should publishers 'go long' on short story positions?  

Here are my top 5 reasons why I think the world needs more short stories.

Short stories and Novellas are:

1.  Perfectly tailored for weekends away, you know in that last minute of frantic packing when you're trying to decide which book to take?  Weighing up the mammoth novel vs. the short stories.  Go on, pick one from your bookshelf and toss it in your lovely monogrammed overnight bag.  See - lightweight, small, fits comfortably between your Jimmy's and your notebook. 

2. Perfect for the lady or gent on the go.  Waiting in airport lounges, on train stations, getting your Mani Pedi done...just the right length. Perfect. 

3.  Perfect for yummy mummy and slummy daddy.  Why? Because anyone with kids knows how little time they have to read!  So a perfectly written tale will provide the much-needed entertainment whilst waiting for little Johnny at the dentist or to while away crusty PTA meetings.  

4.  Perfect for anyone whose date is late...pull out your little sleek book and look busy! An alternative to pretending to talk on your phone whilst avoiding eye contact with the weirdo guy on the nearby barstool.  Psst.wierdo guys at bars can't relate to girls who read, therefore will leave you alone. 

5. Perfect little gems, some sweet, some bitter, others dark, many humorous, and you can lose yourself in their world.  How does this differ from a novel? Well, novels are best savoured at a more leisurely pace, on the beach in a far-flung destination.  You can enjoy a short story in its entirety without interruption.  It's the perfect short break from real life.  

Now, one last thought - take all of the above reasons and convert your book into your chosen e-format, load onto your choice of e-reader.... and add the plethora of e-libraries, just a few clicks away from your perfectly manicured fingertips.  Tell me now...if you were a publisher - in the world full of 'e's and 'i's, wouldn’t you consider going long on your short stories position? 

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Angels & Vampires - Do they have a use-by-date?

"I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."  - Michelangelo

Since the morning Ms Meyer awoke with a dreamy vision of her sparkly 107-year-old vampire leaning menacingly over an average looking shy teenage girl, the world has not slept soundly.  That dream has spawned a phenomenon, capturing the imagination of millions...minds and their wallets.  The franchise is dare I say - behemoth...movies, DVDs, music soundtracks, books, jewellery, clothes, dolls...yes, you can get an Edward doll if you so desire.  Don't forget the Oprah interviews...the lady waggles her finger at me whilst toying with the olive from her vodka martini. 

Vampire literature has drawn fresh blood - new generations of readers are happily ensconced behind closed doors on their favourite sofa - reading the latest paranormal literature.  Last May, I was sitting on a train and glanced around the carriage to see what people were reading.  I was surrounded by the now familiar black and red books - let me just say, the readers were all adults - not teenagers, which leads me nicely to another thought.   Why are these books labeled young adult when millions of humans ranging from your angst-ridden 12 year old to your delightful Grandmother are reading them?  Hell, I'll admit it - I read all 4 books back-to-back in fewer than 5 days.  I don't know why...I just had to know them!  The characters that is.   

So, is this a passing fad - or is it here to stay?  What are your thoughts?  I know alot of folks would be happy if old sparkly just disappeared.  Will vampires and angels continue to be uncovered from their ivy-clad tombstones, free to walk amongst humans for eternity?  How much longer will the paranormal phenomenon remain commercially viable - is there a 'Use-by-Date'?  

As a child I was enthralled by fairytales, as a teenager nothing thrilled me more than the idea of the supernatural living in a parallel world to our own.  Visiting old relatives in the cemetery was a regular chore in my family.  Trying to decipher engravings on fallen down tombstones along broken cemetery lanes filled me with fear and excitement.  As an adult, perhaps the child within us still yearns for the place in our mind where vampires and angels and humans co-exist.  So in my opinion, I have to say these beautiful creatures are indeed, here to stay and there will always be space on my bookshelf for them.  Even if this wave of paranormal peaks, crashes and burns...there will remain a loyal niche of readers...they have always been there, it's just right now the spotlight has been thrown on their deep dark corner of the bookstore.  

PS: For anyone interested in strolling through cemeteries, if you are ever in London - you must visit Highgate.   The lady doth frequent these tangled lanes often.


Photos courtesy of my talented brother, Nick aka the really serious photographer in the family.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Music to scribe by

I am so happy that the new PM finally stood up last night!  Now, I can focus my energies on world peace, hunting more elephants this weekend, and WIP.    Be a love and pour me another glass of Dubonnet...she hisses.  

Everyone has different rituals to follow when sitting down to write.  Some of us need coffee, some chocolate, some of us need to get up and check that the postman hasn't rung five times before settling in.  Let's not even talk about the domestic chores that suddenly seem attractive.

I have discovered that depending on the chapter I am working on - either I sit in holy silence and meditate my way through, or  I need music playing in the background.  It's amazing how uplifting music can be, certain pieces help me organise my thoughts.  Right now, I am loving Florence + The Machine's 'Cosmic Love'   I'm pumping up my iPod to the Extremely-Loud-Hurt-Your-Neighbours'- Ears-Volume, and blasting the cobwebs through the ceiling into the stratosphere.  It's very orgasmic.  Let's hope the WIP keeps up!

How about you - do you prefer to write in blissful silence or do you have a favourite tune that has you writing like a demon at times?

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Elephants & the City

Well it's certainly been an interesting few days this side of the pond.

Dare I mention the 'E'  word....'Election' she whispers, peering over the ballot papers.  We are officially ' Hung'...Parliament, that is.  Monday and the PM has announced he is stepping down.  I'm not a lover of politics but they occasionally fly past my window at times demanding my attention.  So today, I'll take a swat!  I am reminded of PE lessons at school when the class had to split into two teams.  The leaders would have to choose teams from their classmates and you just did not want to be the last person left standing.  Alone.  Come on ladies and gents, sort it out already.  Would the real PM please stand up?

More importantly though something exciting happened to me.  Last night I wrote like possessed madwoman - a total of 5,587 words... thank you very much Mr. Word Count!  So that's a great big hooray for me!  And a big boo to political quagmire at Westminster right now.

After a marathon of writing - I decided to treat myself by joining the hunt for the Elephant Parade in central London.  Don't worry no real elephants were hurt; it's all in aid of charity and raising awareness of the endangered Asian Elephants. Sotheby's will auction off 258 of these elephants designed by many talented artists!  Here's a few darlings' that I, ahem - shot for you.  These lovelies are currently camped  outside the Royal Exchange.  Please enjoy!    And please let me know - what kind of treats do you reward yourself after reaching your daily writing goals?

Elephant Race (against time)  by Caio Locke

                                                         Cosmos by Ewelina Karwarska

                                                  Cartier Royal Exchange Elephant

                                                         Jewel-Ele by Tarun Tahaliani

                                                   Taxi Elephant!  By Benjamin Shine

My Favourite, Paul Smith's Elephant!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Victorian Lady

I am grateful for all the good advice that exists on the web, though at times it is daunting to filter through so many good sites. I know when I stumble across great advice as almost instantly I can connect it back to my own piece of work... its like an 'Aha! Eureka' moment.

One great example happened recently, after hearing Lucy Luck speak at a LWC event in London.  I spent much of my time scribbling wildly into my old brown notebook.

The one point that sticks in my mind most, is that when you are writing in the first person, you sometimes end up sounding like an old Victorian Lady... which I guess, is great if your character is, indeed an old Victorian Lady.  Not so great, if this is not the case. 

I have started my main WIP in the first person, and after hearing this advice decided to re-read the first few chapters. Of course in places...I found her...that old Victorian Lady.  She wasn't alone.  The lady doth keep company.   Yes, our dear Wills Shakespeare was lurking in the background.  Amazing isn't it?  Forget the old Victorian Lady, somewhere in the deep recesses I must be wearing tights and twirling a beard as I write.  So, re-reading has lead to many hours of re-thinking, which in turn has lead to re-writing.

Now I wonder... if you could give one great tip for someone who is starting out on the scribe’s journey, what would that tip be?